Sunday, 3 May 2015

Out with Aperture; In with Lightroom

Being completely underwhelmed by Apple's new Photos application, I grasped the nettle and bought the new version of Lightroom, Lightroom 6, as a download from Amazon. I strongly resented having to do so because the seamless link between Final Cut Pro X and Photos or Aperture for moving stills into video is (was) something I use often. With Aperture having been discontinued and withdrawal of support in the offing, my hopes were resting on Photos having plug-in routes to Photoshop and Nik Software etc. But no, the dumbed down, noddy-in-toyland Photos has no such feature. That may come in the future but given such a poor start I cannot see many photographers bothering to wait. And if it is planned to have features added in the future, why release the program now? Have Apple learnt nothing from the incomplete-at-launch Final Cut Pro X debacle?

I had Lightroom 6 downloaded and installed in under 15 minutes (we do have pretty fast broadband here). I tried the automatic Aperture to Lightroom transfer but I did not want the file structure being set up, cancelled the process, deleted the photographs in Lightroom and the files in Finder. and started all over again—this time manually. A rough estimate was that it took 12 hours to export each event from Aperture to a new file and to then import the contents of that file into Lightroom.

I am getting to grips with Lightroom. Thus far I have not encountered any problems, other than the internet link to Help being dead. The lens correction list appeared to be measly until I found the way of finding and downloading other lens corrections profiles. This I did for two of my much-used Nikon lenses.

I have Photoshop Elements as the main external editor and Nik Software plug-ins installed. There is a choice of secondary external editors; I have Nikon Capture NX2 at present because it provides my secondary means of channel swapping infrared photographs.

To sum up so far. Can I do all I wish to do with normal (i.e. non infrared) photographs or scans? Yes. Can I use workflows from Lightroom to process infrared images using either Photoshop Elements and Elements+ or Capture NX2? Yes. Can I apply lens corrections in Lightroom 6 that I previously used PTLens* to achieve? Yes. Can I use the noise reduction software in Lightroom or the Nik suite to improve scans of prints on 1950s textured paper that I previously used Neat Image to achieve? Yes.

The only feature I have lost is the direct import of stills into Final Cut Pro X. For that I shall use, in part, the new video plus stills import option in FCPX. For convenience, I will have to export some stills from Lightroom and import them either into Photos or Aperture.

Changing from Aperture to Lightroom does offer the opportunity to use LRTimelapse instead of my current workflow (which does involve steps in Aperture) to make Timelapse videos using my Nikon D700. The procedure looks powerful if a little complicated but if LRTimelapse works as well as is promised, then the move to Lightroom will bring an added bonus.

So, Aperture now lies unused in my Applications Folder while Lightroom 6 joins Photoshop Elements, Final Cut Pro X and Motion in the Dock. After a quick look, is Lightroom 6 better than Aperture 3? In many ways it is but in some ways, Aperture had the edge.

*PTLens and other programs can be used as the secondary editor if needed, as can other well-known image-editing software.